From a press release issued by Operation Smile
A Dolphin’s Promise is officially returning to the shores of Virginia Beach as a way for local leadership, educators, students and artists to show support for children in the community and around the world by encouraging public service and art.
A Promise Dolphin is gifted to businesses, schools and individuals that make a donation in a specific amount to Operation Smile. Proceeds from the donations will cover the cost of cleft surgeries and provide scholarships for students and educators to attend Operation Smile’s leadership conferences and medical missions.
Originally founded by Cindy Graf in 2006, A Dolphin’s Promise was an effort to raise support for cancer research through the distribution of fiberglass dolphin statues to Virginia Beach businesses and residents. In 2020, Graf invited Operation Smile to adopt this project to support their mission of providing free reconstructive cleft surgery and related care to areas of the world where it’s needed most.
“When I founded A Dolphins Promise it was a tribute to my amazing mother Pat and her courageous battle against cancer. I am so excited to have Operation Smile continue its tradition of helping others by providing life-changing cleft surgeries to children around the world.” explained Graf.
Operation Smile’s journey with the iconic dolphin statues began in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when students were away from school and seniors from the class of 2020 were unable to truly experience their senior year. With close relations to the students of Hampton Roads, Operation Smile student clubs at First Colonial, Cox and Princess Anne High Schools honored their 2020 graduating classes by gifting them their own custom dolphin statues.
Since officially launching this new initiative, two dolphin statues were gifted to Cape Henry Collegiate High School and Norfolk Academy through donations made by Richard Rosenblum, a practicing plastic surgeon at Rosenblum Plastic Surgery in Virginia Beach and his wife, Gabi Rosenblum. Richard was the first Norfolk Academy student to travel on a mission with Operation Smile back in 1983 and Richard’s father, Dr. Fred Rosenblum, served as the nonprofit’s first dentist.
Operation Smile is currently building a roster of hometown artists to collaborate with their donors and decorate the Promise Dolphins. They are also actively looking for creatives who’d like to volunteer and mentor student artists.
For more information about Operation Smile Student Programs, visit StudentPrograms.OperationSmile.org